I am writing in response to the April 4 letter submitted by Paul Michael White. Given his stated family connections to the wild Atlantic salmon fishery, he of all people should know that most of the declines in wild Atlantic salmon populations started in the 1970s and 1980s in Newfoundland and Labrador and across Atlantic Canada.
In fact, the government bought out commercial Atlantic salmon licences in the early 1990s when a moratorium was imposed due to the poor status of wild populations.
This happened long before any salmon farming began in earnest in this province (since 2003), and we currently farm in an area representing less than two per cent of the entire 17,542 kilometres of coastline in Newfoundland and Labrador.
White says “the truth is backed by science.”
The truth is, Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to monitor stock status in Canada, and the greatest threats to wild salmon recovery/wild populations continue to be intercept fisheries (off St-Pierre and elsewhere), poaching, bycatch in commercial fisheries, habitat alteration by dams, roads, pollution and climate change … all very well documented by DFO Science.
Salmon farming is heavily governed by science, and the most recent science on a global basis actually does not support the contention that farmed salmon decimate wild salmon. In fact, science shows that farmed salmon impacts are limited on wild salmon populations.
It is disrespectful to the thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, who are proud to work in the aquaculture industry in this province to provide such misinformation about an industry that generated over $197 million in direct product sales in 2013, and well over a billion dollars in the last 10 years.
This industry is committed to the people and communities of this province, and we continue to support any efforts to protect and conserve wild populations of Atlantic salmon, but we will not stand by and allow misinformed allegations about our industry to go unchallenged when the science and facts clearly suggest otherwise.